What happens when a porno outfit tries to go legit? Well, you get Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1987, 75 minutes), that's what. B-auteur Fred Olen Ray was given a budget of less than $60,000 by L.A. Video, and in no longer than a week of shooting, produced a bona fide classic that even debuted at the Egyptian Theatre. Part of his magic formula was bringing in the world's most famous chainsaw-wielding maniac Gunnar Hansen of Texas Chainsaw Massacre as one of the leads along side B-Queens Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer. But neither they or Fred ever fathomed this strange little flick would become the cult phenomenon it has.
The movie: Our adventure begins with an admonition ...
Attaboy, Fred. It's easy to get caught up in the jiggling lingerie and whirring chainsaws, but at its festering little heart, this B-genre gem is really a private eye flick and Jack Chandler (Jay Richardson) is the gumshoe on the case. As we learn through his fantastically cornball voiceovers, it's when trying to track down a beautiful runaway (Quigley) that Chandler accidently stumbles across an evil cult of chainsaw-worshiping prostitutes and their malevolent gore guru The Stranger (Hansen) who stalk the dingy motels of Los Angeles and gleefully turn Johns into cold cuts. In fact, the gal he's looking for is in cahoots with the Cuisinart cultists, which unfortunately lands Jack flat on his back on a sacrificial alter as the main course for the Feast of the Dead. But not before Linnea emerges from a coffin and slinks the immortal Virgin Dance of the Double Chainsaws. It's the stuff of B-legend. CineSchlockers undoubtedly know Mr. Hansen also brandished a saw in Mosquito (1995), which he both co-wrote and starred in.
Notables: 12 breasts. Four corpses. Sucker head butt. Spitting. Fire breathing. Gratuitous David Letterman references. Nekkid dancing. Private dick jokes. Finger stealing. Decorative body paint.
Quotables: Jack Chandler is skeptical of the chainsaw cult, "What do you do, pray to Black and Decker?!" and knows what he likes in a dame, "The kid talked like a Frosted Flake, but she had the nicest set of knockers that I'd seen in a long time." The Stranger scolds Jack for yelping as a knife carves his flesh, "Please Mr. Chandler. Think of the neighbors. They're trying to sleep." Mercedes (Ms. Bauer) doesn't take no sass, "Shut your face, HEATHEN!" Drunken whores chant incoherently, "KILL IT TO HIM!!! KILL IT TO HIM!!!"
Time codes: Mercedes covers her Elvis shrine in plastic before setting to work (9:40). Amateur pornographer with a baseball fetish (24:45). Linnea joins the picture (32:10). Can you spot Grace Jones in this set piece? (58:00). Ms. Quigley makes cinematic history (1:02:40).
Audio/Video: Beautifully presented in a widescreen (1.66:1) print directly mastered from the original 35mm camera negative. Black levels remain consistent throughout with only minimal grain or shimmering. Utilitarian Dolby Digital mono track.
Extras: The film is hosted by Fred Olen Ray as part of his "Night Owl Theater" series. The witty cigars 'n' cocktails vignettes give Fred a chance to ham it up in front of the camera while also providing some additional eye candy via his bodacious wife Miss Kim and some topless babes playing Twister. Fans will also appreciate the 23-minute documentary detailing the making of the flick. Linnea Quigley admits that while she was thrilled by the prospect of working with Fred, when she heard the title of the movie she asked, "This isn't a porno, is it?!!" Michelle Bauer also shares her recollections. And as always, Fred pretty much tells it like it is, "When all is said and done, it's probably taken me more time and more effort and more care to put together this special edition of Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers than it ever did to make the original film." There's also a trailer, plus reels for Fatal Justice and Angel Eyes. Motion-video menus with audio. Postcard insert for "free stuff."
Final thought: Easily one of the top genre releases of the year, and the addition of "Night Owl Theater" really creates the sort of atmosphere in which a picture of this ilk should be viewed. Highly Recommended.
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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.